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Sensory Yoga in Hair Raising Times ~ Namaste

February 2021. Soft hands belie a commitment to hand sanitizers as the Pandemic forges onward. Corona Easter Bunny 2020 by Hilary Those souls whose sensory overload comes quickly in the best of times are quickest to notice the rawness of skin now washed in a constant acid bath of battle. No lotion soothes these scoured parts, those instruments of giving and receiving for too human bodies. The skin the world sees, the skin of the organs, the skin of the breath and even the mind is chafed and chapped and twitchy. We are fragile and too tender for the fight. Being thin skinned takes on a sharp meaning when the thickness of ones skin implies protection. In a world where beauty certainly isn’t only skin deep, at a time when we are forced to the surface hourly in an attempt to come up for news that is the air defining our days, we live on the surface. The yoga teacher urges the student toward the down under. Seek the quiet beneath the surf for answers to your urgent question. Who am I? What’s happening? What is real? One might see living beneath the surface now as denial or detachment or worse, disassociation. Underground is a dirty word aligned with other words like the “dark web”. The underground rises to the surface again and again. It is blind and desperate for a light. It will not be ignored. On the surface it crashed the nation’s Capitol in a murderous rage. On the surface it is a violent virus burning holes in the skin of lungs. But in yoga we encourage...

Broken Yogi 2020

Yoga combats arthritis, scoliosis, osteoporosis, imbalances, muscle weakness, pain and mental suffering. Or it increases it. Everything is the result of how you’re made and how you do things. And then there is how you are guided to manage these things. Organization, meaning how our body organizes itself, is key but we are mostly messy and subject to outside opinions of “cleanliness”. In yoga cleanliness is not described as the opposite of dirty but an inner shine. It is a component of a larger picture of contentment. In the late eighties and nineties many of us yoga enthusiasts were taught to invite discomfort, to force ourselves past normal range of motion, to work till the breath was ragged and then work to control that breath. It was stimulating, emotionally revealing, challenging in the best of ways. It did feel like making diamonds from carbon. Yoga was young in the U.S.. We were young. For many bodies that was fine until time changed those bodies and the practice naturally evolved with aging. For some bodies that was fine until it wasn’t and it was too late to undo the damage. About 25 years ago I began to feel the effects of pushing my body to the limit. In fairness I’d been told by a rheumatologist that my ligaments lacked integrity and yoga was the worst thing my body could do. It would destroy me. I discounted that at a time when movement came so easily and yoga was a dance that satisfied me wholly. I probably should have stuck to my own practice of dance incorporating yoga as that never...

WIRED.

  I always ask them, why did you come to yoga today? Most of them stay silent hoping I’ll ignore them or just do anything, anything other than demand an answer. Today a couple of folks wanted a body mind connection.   You will move your body. You will breathe with intention to inspire that movement. That will connect your body and mind. But your mind is a tricky construct created between you and impressions of the world. It is both your protector and foil. You want to connect to more of yourself than that. But the mind says there is nothing more. This is the work. And the work is intimacy that you were trained to avoid.   We are a network of nerves.   What does that have to do with your yoga practice? You came here expecting to move in familiar ways. You came here expecting me to tell you to breathe as if that was the measure of your endurance or consciousness, as if that done with precision will mean the yoga is working.   We see, hear, taste, smell, touch and think of that which comes in from an outside source. We have another sense of our movement in relation to space. Simultaneously, we have internal senses that measure impressions of the world within. These senses dictate our behavior both consciously and automatically.  We are a matrix of nerves wired to compute 24/7. We are not familiar with all of ourselves because all of ourselves is vast beyond present measurement.   People come to yoga for relief and they try to blow past sensations...

Somatic Yoga. Ladybug v. the Beetle

I cleaned out an old desk and found this described in a flyer from a workshop I taught in 2008: Balancing Structure and Freedom The student moving from precise focused alignment to an exploration of the senses will come away with a deeper awareness of asana as the physical expression of yoga philosophy. The student will also be guided to freedom of movement within and without form to create form.   The second part of that workshop presented a study in inductive v. deductive body reasoning which is why an Iyengar student back in the day described my classes as back door yoga. The pose is revealed as the parts come together. You might say, as the parts become organized as a whole.   This is based on my experience of yoga. This is what a yoga teacher offers. It is not regurgitation of something before them.  It is the expression of that information now digested by their unique digestive juices.   My yoga developed during years of dual study in Iyengar and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement. These practices do not involve opposing subtleties but they are opposing dynamics.  They are taught independently in different worlds of somatics. That informed my teaching at a time few people were studying either. Now I see the online yoga world discovering the benefits of subtle movement .  What felt unique to me is becoming “a thing”. That is a good thing.   But when I wonder what I have left to offer any student that hasn’t been done before, when I become frustrated that I’ve said and done it all, I am...

What Does Karma Have to Do With Your Yoga Practice?

  Karma describes the cycle of action creating a reaction which causes a further action. It is called the wheel of karma because it is a loop. It can indicate a lack of consciousness when the reactions do not reap positive change. In your asana practice it can manifest as non-productive aggression. That aggression results in discomfort. Yet asana is described as a comfortable seat. How do you manage karma in your yoga practice in a yoga class? Mimic the outer form of the posture.  That is the guide and imposition of external force.  That is the action. Then move within that form until it is comfortable. That is the reaction. Extend yourself with your breath into the outer reaches of that form. Adjust again and again until you are comfortable even for two breaths. Hold the space in the pose because you have stability because you can do that now. Be in the pose and don’t push. The breath is all the action you need. Receive and release the breath. Do not force it. If your pose has a positive effect the movement of breath will be pleasing. Recognize the sensation before you feel the need to shift again, because you will, because nothing but death is static.  Notice what ease feels like as the wheel of karma momentarily stops.  ...

No Stability, No Space. Closed Chain Yoga with Hilary Lindsay

Closed chain describes exercise where the limbs are steadied by a constant surface. It keeps the energy in the distal and proximal length of the limbs at once and crosses several joints at once. It bounces us back to the spine. A modern yoga teacher often uses the word “open”. Without a sense of center or place to open from, this description can be confusing in a physical yoga practice. Here the postures demand movement from the core. The core surrounds and supports the spine and brain. The sensation of opening in this case is the stretch of muscle bone and fiber once activated and rooted. This is stability. Once stable the nervous system calms and has space to pay attention, to direct attention. No stability~no space. Ignite what supports the spine and brain. Bring physical energy to the core in order to ground the student. Without grounding, opening is not only confusing but dangerous. Furthermore it makes for a whole lot of yoga absurdity. Who hasn’t been in a group of open hearted yogis who are more posture than substance? I know I have. I have fled the yoga studio scene because of that lack of sincerity. Using unstable bands, bands that stretch, encourages the nerves to find center in an unstable world. It adds an element of reality to the practice of yoga with props. I am introducing yoga using therapy bands. For instruction contact me at activeyoga@comcast.net. My studio comes with me. Here is the first video.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7NRrtDpP3g The cues for action and awareness will be...